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Getting Inspired

Meg over at Meg Travels has nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! I’m not sure if I inspire her to go and see more places or if I inspire her to get to work on her house! In any case, thank you Meg for sending this award my way. I am very glad that my blog, in either of those cases, inspires you. I hope others are inspired by it, too.

Meg gets to do something I would love to do (I bet you all would too). She gets to travel around the globe and then she gets to write all about it. Who in their right mind wouldn’t want to do that! She just returned from a trip to Italy and is in the process of telling us all about the wonderful things to see and do there. Coincidentally, I found her blog from her writings on France. I am always curious about the places people go to visit, what they did there and why they recommend it. Meg gives her readers just that, plus a few extras. My recommendation is to “travel” on over to her blog and see what she’s been up to recently.

In order to accept this award, I have to follow a few rules and here they are:

First, acknowledge and thank the giver by linking back to their blog and put the award on your page. Check.

Next, list 7 things about yourself. Check.

  1. Turtles are my most favorite animal in the world (I’ve mentioned this before). I had two box turtles as a teenager and they were named J.R. (I know what you all are thinking and yes, he was named after J.R. Ewing since I had such an addiction to Dallas) and Caruso (I don’t know why, he just looked like a Caruso to me). After my first child was born, they became poor, little, neglected turtles so I gave them to a friend of my aunt’s who had a bunch of turtles in her back yard. I believe that my little guys are still living there happily ever after.
  2. The first DVD that I ever purchased was “A League of Their Own”. I still love that movie and I’ve watched it a million times! It’s one of those great feel-good movies that never gets old.
  3. I don’t own any dresses or skirts. I hate wearing them. In my elementary school, girls had to wear a dress everyday and boys had to wear a tie. Thanks to that, my wardrobe of preference is jeans and a t-shirt. What else does a girl need?
  4. The moon is my favorite celestial being. There’s something very calming about gazing up at the night sky and seeing the moon, especially a harvest moon, now that’s something to behold.
  5. I had my tonsils taken out when I was 4 years old and I had hernia surgery when I was 7 years old.  I get the tonsil thing but a hernia at 7?? I think child labor services should have shown up at my house.
  6. The two subjects I always tried to get out of in school were math and science. I couldn’t stand either one of them and I took the least amount of classes in those subjects possible to still be able to graduate with all fulfilled requirements. Funny how those are the two things I deal with in my job all day long! Who’d a thunk it? Definitely not me!
  7. I took my first airplane ride when I was 23 years old. I went to Maui, Hawaii. I didn’t have the opportunity to travel when I was younger aside from a couple of trips to the lake with my family and one 3 week vacation trip I took with my aunt, uncle and cousins in their motor home when I was 16. The travel bug didn’t bite me until I was in my mid-30’s! I think I’m making up for all those lost travel years now 🙂 BTW- France was the very first destination I went to outside of the USA. Hmm, there’s gotta be fate in that somewhere.

Last, pass the award to some bloggers who inspire you. Check.

Fit for my Fork– Sam inspires me to eat it up healthy and to love doing it.

Beyond the Brush– Lynne inspires me to appreciate the arts.

A Historic Virginia Plantation– Michelle and Brett inspire me to continue on with my old French house remodel and to look forward to the day it’s done!

My Botanical Garden– Inspires me to get out in garden and get myself some green thumbs.

Lorna’s Tearoom Delight– Inspires me to relax and have a good cup of tea and to have the courage to write a book about what I love!

To all of you out there in blog land, go forth and be inspired 🙂


Near the town of Aix-en-Provence, rising out of the landscape, you will find the Aqueduc-de-Roquefavour. While on an outing to see the town of Ventabren, we happened upon it.

Even though I lived in Aix-en-Provence for two years and the aqueduct is situated only about 15 kilometers from there, I never knew of its existence.

It was built between the years of 1840-1847 by a young engineer named Franz Mayor de Montricher. The reason for its construction was that the surrounding area (mostly Marseille) which was continuing to grow at a rapid rate was having trouble getting access to fresh, clean water. They needed some way to bring the fresh waters of the Durance to the town. An epidemic of cholera a few years before construction began was a major pushing point in getting the aqueduct built.

It measures 393 meters long and 82 meters high and is comprised of 3 layers of arches. There were around 5000 workers who contributed to its construction. Today it is classified as an historical monument.

To see the aqueduct up close, you can park your car just under the railroad bridge and there you will find access to some steep and narrow steps. Once at the top of the stone steps there is a path just up to the left of the aqueduct. The climb up this rocky path is pretty steep but it gives you access to the next level on which you can stand and see a wonderful view of the surrounding area. Unfortunately, the entrances to go under the arches are now gated and you can’t pass through to walk across, but you can still walk around the area to see different views of it. If you’re like me, you will love getting up close to be able to touch it.

It is in near perfect condition and looks as if it were built recently (except for the architectural style). It is definitely worth a stop if you are on your way to one of the surrounding villages.

We enjoyed a lovely afternoon there and were blessed with great weather, as well.


Make It Count

My cousin, Nicole, posted this video on Facebook. I found myself watching it several times and each time I notice a bigger grin on my face and for a longer duration. I wanted to share it simply for that reason and to say that I wish I could be this adventurous (and also have the budget for it).

The video is about two guys who traveled as much as they could around the world in a 10 day period. They came home when the money ran out.

Thanks Nicole, for sharing.

If you were given a large amount of money to travel and it were to last for 10 days, where would you go and what would you do there? What types of places and adventures would you experience if you knew that no matter what, your budget had no boundaries for 10 days ?

Port Grimaud

The weather reporters promised us a beautiful day on New Year’s and they definitely followed through. It was absolutely gorgeous and we made every minute of it count for us.

Dude and I decided that a road trip was in order that day. What the heck, it’s a holiday right? So off we went to visit Port Grimaud. I had never been there but I had seen pictures and heard that it was one of those “must see” places in France and I was definitely not disappointed. Dude and I concluded that it could very well be the French twin for California’s Balboa Island.

Since it was a holiday, everything was closed with the exception of one restaurant. I pretty much think that even this place would be closed down even if it weren’t a holiday. There were signs up on many of the store fronts saying that they were closed for the season and would reopen again in April.

From the look of it, I gathered that this is a hot spot during the summer season. On this particular day Dude and I were the only Americans around. It seemed to be the day of the Italians with just about everyone we passed speaking Italian. There was a bit of French sprinkled in every now and again and we did hear one group speaking British English, but we were overwhelmingly in a crowd of Italians. I’m not complaining one bit, though, since I absolutely love to listen to Italian. I’m guessing they had some special to go to France this season or something! We even saw the Italian roller team van!

There are a couple of areas to Port Grimaud. One is the gate way to the first area that was built with the bridges and shops and older homes along the canal and the other is the south port with newer style homes and a newer looking layout.

We started with the “old” Port.  Now, I use the term “old” here very loosely since this area is not old by any means. I hate to burst your bubble (since mine was) but I did some research on this area and it seems that it was constructed in and around 1967. The good thing about it is that the architect kept up with the old fashion French village look and things look really vintage which is unlike other really ugly ( I might add) structures that were constructed during that same time period in France.

We entered through the main gate that takes you to the main street which then branches off onto other streets by which you cross the bridges. It would have been nice if shops were open, but then again, it was nice to take a leisurely stroll without being bombarded by a bunch of people. There are streets to walk down that have houses on either side and then there are areas where you can walk just along the canal. I’m guessing there is something there called CC&Rs (at least that is what we call them in the states) because every house was neatly painted and fixed-up. You aren’t going to find any broken down remodels in this place. I have a feeling that is “interdit” in these parts. The other curious thing is everyone had these weird chimney tops that were surrounded by house tiles. Kind of strange, but it must be on the books that one has to have upright tiles surrounding  the chimney vent!

After walking the port we headed over to the beach area. There is a lovely view of St. Tropez just across the water. The sea, as usual, had the loveliest colors imaginable. I made a mental note not to come here in the summer as I think that finding even a small spot on the beach would be impossible due to the fact that it is a sandy beach (there are quite a few beaches in Provence that are rocky) and also due to the gorgeous view. If you do decide to make a trip here in the summer, there is ample parking (which was quite nice) and it’s not far from the beach. The down side is that the tariffs are really expensive. There is free parking along the main street just adjacent to the entrance of the port but you would have to get there mighty earlier to take advantage  of it.

After our walk along the beach Dude and I headed back to the car for a quick bite to eat (we always picnic it on road trip day) and then we walked over to see what the southern port was like. This side was also nice, but it isn’t as lovely as the old port side. This area has its own beach access which is a bit smaller, but the view is the same.

Dude and I found an old boat that had encountered some issues sometime in its life and had washed ashore. From the looks of it, I think it had been there awhile. It was only a shell as someone had come by and stolen all the internal parts. I’m sure it makes for a great toy for the kiddies in the summer.

This area, though fairly new in France, was definitely worth the trip. I do recommend it and make sure you take the whole day. Even if you don’t make it to the beach, it’s a wonderful way to stroll along the Mediterranean and just enjoying being outdoors in a beautiful environment.

If you want to see more photos of Port Grimaud they appear on Flickr. To get there just click on the “More Photos” option under Photos on Flickr.

Solliès-Pont Chateau

While out and about one day we happened upon a chateau in the village of Solliès-Pont which is located near Toulon.

This chateau is actually easy to miss if your happen to not be looking out your side window (as I was) while driving by. In this modern day it’s surrounded by commerce, apartments and houses.

I love to go chateau hunting. It happens to fill me with the greatest excitement ever. It’s history happening right before my eyes and all other things around me just disappear. When I find a chateau or the ruins of one, I study everything about it. I love to walk around and touch the walls and feel every part of it. I will literally close my eyes and image what it was like to be there when it was in all its glory hundreds of years ago. I can visualize the people, the furnishings, the surrounding area and I marvel that such a thing could still be present even if it’s just the remains that are left.

On this day and with this chateau, I was able to see it as it almost was when it was built in the 16th century by the Forbin family. People like Charles IX, Catherine de Medicis and Louis XIV (who I am quite fascinated with) graced their presents here. Granted the chateau is not in the exact state it was when it was built. It had to be rebuilt after local citizens and others from Marseille set fire to it in 1792. After that, it was left in a state of disrepair. Of course today the chateau one sees has been modernized and is constantly maintained.

Nevertheless, it has stood the test of time and has its stories to tell. Whenever I have the chance to visit sites like this I really do wish walls could talk so they would tell me all that they have seen and the history that has transpired.

In April 1998, the community of Solliès-Pont purchased the chateau and park. Nowadays the chateau is host to the Office of Tourism, the police station and an art exhibition gallery amongst other things. During the month of July it is host to many outdoor concerts as it is situated on a beautiful park of several hectares. There is also a nice pond towards the back of the park that you can leisurely stroll around.

If you happen to be in the area, stop by for a visit. There is a terrific spot at the backside of the chateau to have an afternoon picnic on the lawn. This is by far the best view as you get to see the chateau, the park full of beautiful trees and the pond.

It’s a great way to spend the afternoon with family and friends and to show off the fact that you get to live in a country that has something like this!

If you want to see more photos of the Solliès-Pont Chateau they appear on Flickr. To get there just click on the “More Photos” option under Photos on Flickr.


Abbaye du Thoronet

On Saturday, we finally took a break from our nightmare remodel and went to visit the Abbaye du Thoronet. Last spring we had happened upon it, but it was towards the end of the day so we were too late to take the tour and told ourselves we would come back in the fall to see it.

Since the weather is still absolutely glorious here, we decided to take advantage and skip out on the job. The abbaye is located in the Var and in the Forêt de la Darboussière. There is ample parking just across the road to the entrance and it’s free (I like that). The general fee for entering the abbaye is 7€ for adults. They also offer group prices, school tour prices and some people even get free admission. Check their website for more details and hours as those do change according to the season and day. There is a self-guided tour, but you can also take advantage of a guided tour if you so choose. We chose to make the rounds ourselves. I would recommend allowing yourself about 2 hours to see everything. There’s a good deal of information on the guide and just as much photo opps as you can imagine.

When you pay for your ticket you will also receive a rather large pamphlet (and I mean by size cuz this is the biggest, laminated tour guide I’ve ever seen) to tell you the different areas of the abbaye and describe what they were used for. It was originally built in the 1100. Over the years it had fallen into serious disrepair and for the past 150 years the government has been working on restoring it. The buildings are gorgeous and the state has taken care to preserve it very nicely. The one area I would have liked to see the government fix up is a beautiful plot of land surrounded by a stone wall that used to be the monk’s vineyards. There are no longer any vineyards there and the land is overgrown with weeds. I hope in the future this is on the books to do since it would be a very nice place to take a stroll or rest after taking the tour.

Most of the buildings are intact and just beautiful. There are a few ruins towards the Lodge and some parts that look like they are in ruins, but I was not sure if that were true or if the monks simply ran out of money and didn’t finish. Unfortunately this was not explained in the rather large pamphlet and this area was also inaccessible to the public.  All rooms are empty with the exception of a building that houses a replica of the abbaye, a large press, an area to show original tile work and photos and explanations of the abbaye and the restoration that has gone on over the last 150 years. The main chapel has two statues and houses four alters. Concerts have taken place in the chapel (I assume it’s because the acoustics must be marvelous) so lightening and movable chairs are also in there. Other than that, it seems to be just like it was when it was occupied over the centuries by the monks. The most interesting fact to me was that there was only one, very small area in this entire abbaye where the monks were allowed to speak to each other. It was here that they would converse about who was to do what tasks for the day. I found that amazing! Every day they would live with their fellow monks and never a word to each other except for this tiny area. It must have been quite lonely for them.

There whole life was wrapped up in the work of God and providing food and money for themselves. They whole idea for them was a life of solitude, servitude and no material possessions. They made honey, wine and olive oil and I suppose they sold these for money to keep the abbaye going. In the end, before it was abandoned, but already had fallen into disrepair, there were only seven monks left. There was no explanation on what happened to these seven monks. Once they were gone, the abbaye was left to ruin until the state started to make repairs.

It’s a lovely and peaceful place to visit and I do highly recommend it. It’s great to see the government of France take hold of places like this and restore them so the public can enjoy seeing and learning about the history. This is definitely on my list of “return to” places when our family and friends come to visit.

If you want to see more photos of the Abbaye du Thoronet they appear on Flickr. To get there just click on the “More Photos” option under Photos on Flickr.


I love the town of Roussillon. The few times that we’ve gone there I always take advantage of the hike through the Ochre Trail. It’s cool and refreshing and the colors that surround you are like no other.

Since enjoying the Ochre hiking trails back in 2004, the town has changed it up a bit. One used to be able to go around more areas and even climb on some of the cliffs. No longer can you do this. I was a bit sad at not having the chance to see as much of the trails and cliffs as I used to, but I do understand the reasoning. With so many people climbing and playing on the cliffs it causes them to erode faster and that would mean less time in the future to see these beautiful wonders of the world.

I love it here. The walk is so peaceful and there are many areas where one can sit and just gaze out at the cliffs and enjoy the breathtaking beauty. You could seriously stay all day. Bring a book and a camera and you got it made! There is a modest entry fee of around 2,50 Euros, but well worth it! During the year it’s open almost every day except for when the weather is extremely bad. There is no time limit to be there so make the most of the hike. It’s fun for all ages, too. You might want to bring extra clothes and shoes for small children as the clay will get everywhere!

One can also visit the Colour Conservatory that gives guided tours and informs you on everything Ochre related. They also offer classes and workshops throughout the year. I have yet to take advantage of this, but plans are in the works.

Take some time out to visit the town, as well. The colors of the village houses and buildings are due to the Ochre used in painting them. It’s magnificent! The town is cozy and quaint and there are many areas from where you can get a terrific view of the valley.  There are some great restaurants with absolutely brilliant hilltop views, too.

You will need to pay for parking unless you park really far away and plan on hiking it to the town so bring your change with you. In spring and summer it’s very busy with buses of tourist and locals alike enjoying the scenery.

The few times we have venture to Roussillon I marvel at how truly beautiful this village and the Ochre Trail really are. It never gets old.

If you want to see more photos of Roussillon they appear on Flickr. To get there just click on the “More Photos” option under Photos on Flickr.

If you’ve been there I would love to know what your favorite part is. Have you been to the Colour Conservatory? If so, is it worth it?

La Cadière-d’Azur

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